Oxycodone bust reveals Delaware County's drug trafficking problem

Above: Jeffrey Vollkommer of Delhi and Scott Burns of Bovina. At bottom of post: Clarence Vanier and Melody Vanier of Oneonta. All four were arrested last week and charged with oxycodone possession. Photos from the New York State Police.

Last week's bust of an alleged oxycodone drug trafficking ring in Oneonta, Delhi and the tiny Delaware County town of Bovina is a symptom of a larger problem: Delaware County has one of the highest rates of prescription drug trafficking in the Southern Tier, according to a state narcotics enforcement official.

Around 6am on Tuesday, December 20, police from the Delaware County Sheriff's office, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team arrested four people at three addresses and netted over $120,000 worth of oxycodone powder, along with cocaine, guns, packaging materials and cash.

The suspects are 43-year-old Clarence Vanier and 38-year-old Melody Vanier of Oneonta, 39-year-old Jeffrey Vollkommer of Delhi, and 45-year-old Scott Burns of Bovina. The Vaniers were both charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the 1st degree, while Vollkommer and Burns were charged with the same offense in the 3rd degree.

Lieutenant Patrick J. Garey, the commander of the State Police Narcotics Enforcement Team's Southern Tier region, was involved in the investigation. Today, in an interview with the Watershed Post, he said that last week's arrests show that there is a serious prescription drug problem in Delaware County.

"In all of the counties that we cover in the Southern Tier, Delaware County by far has the most prescription drug stuff coming through," Garey said. "There's very little meth-related stuff, some heroin, some cocaine, some marijuana, but really, right now, the intelligence we're hearing is about prescription drugs."

The narcotics team's Southern Tier region covers ten counties, of which Delaware and Otsego are the easternmost.

Police say that most of the powdered oxycodone discovered during the arrests was located at the Oneonta address where the Vaniers lived. The nature of the Vaniers' connection to Vollkommer in Delhi and Burns in Bovina hasn't been made public yet, Garey said. However, he said that that prosecutors may attempt to charge the four suspects with conspiracy. (At the moment, the suspects have only been charged with possession.)

Oxycodone powder, guns, and cash were found at Vollkommer's residence in Delhi and at Scott Burns' residence in Bovina. Two cars -- a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta and a 2001 GMC Sonoma -- were seized from the Bovina location.

Garey said that the narcotics task force had received tips that the Bovina residence, on Lee Hollow Road, was the hub of a disproportionate amount of car traffic for a small rural town.

"There was a lot of traffic at Bovina," he said.

Law enforcement officials believe that the oxycodone powder recovered in last week's bust is coming from outside Delaware County, Garey said, despite the fact that the county is home to Covidien, a company that manufactures oxycodone tablets.

Covidien has a manufacturing plant in Hobart, but Garey said that his narcotics task force has found no indication that the oxycodone powder found in last week's arrests came from the Covidien facility.

"With the stuff we seized, there's no tie [to Covidien]," Garey said. "We can, with a lot of certainty,  say that the stuff what we recovered was from out of the area."

Garey said that the narcotics task force is actively investigating the case, and is open to "anyone who has information." Tips can be called in to 607-766-2300.

"We will accept anonymous tips," Garey said. "However, they are much more difficult for us to do anything with. We would much rather have someone speak to an investigator, so they can answer questions, than to just have them leave a tip on the answering machine."

Read the full press release from the State Police below. Note: The State Police press release seems to erroneously say that five people were arrested.

Over $100,000.00 Of Oxycodone Powder Seized - Five People Arrested

(Sidney, N.Y. – December 20, 2011) An ongoing investigation into the distribution of oxycodone and other prescription controlled substances in Delaware and Otsego County has lead to the arrest of five people and the seizure of oxycodone powder with a street value of over $120,000.00

During the early morning hours of December 20, 2011, members of the New York State Police, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration executed search warrants at three residences in Delaware and Otsego County. The search warrants stem from an investigation into sales of oxycodone powder conducted by the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – Syracuse Resident Office.

State Police recovered nearly 350 grams of oxycodone powder, one ounce of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and scales during the searches and seized approximately $1,800.00 in cash and three vehicles.

The following people were arrested:

Clarence Vanier, aka “C”, age 43, and Melody Vanier, age 38, who both reside at 5441 State Highway 7, Town of Oneonta, New York. Clarence and Melody Vanier were charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 1st degree.

Jeffrey Vollkommer, age 39, of 239 Middlemist Road, Town of Delhi, charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd degree.

Scott Burns, age 45, of 799 Lee Hollow Road, Town of Bovina, charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd degree.

Search warrants were executed at the following locations: 5441 State Highway 7, Town of Oneonta: Over 335 grams of oxycodone with a street value of over $117,000 and other drug paraphernalia commonly associated with the sale of controlled substances were seized as evidence.

239 Middlemist Road, Town of Delhi: Approximately 28 grams of oxycodone powder, 28 grams of cocaine, five (5) long guns and one-thousand three hundred dollars ($1,300.00) in cash were seized as evidence.

799 Lee Hollow Road, Town of Bovina: Approximately 9 grams of oxycodone powder, drug paraphernalia and packaging material commonly associated with the sale of controlled substances, marihuana, fifteen (15) long guns, $640.00 in cash, a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta and a 2001 GMC Sonoma were seized as evidence.

Clarence and Melody Vanier were arraigned in the Town of Oneonta Court and remanded to the Otsego County Jail without bail. Jeffrey Vollkommer and Scott Burns were arraigned in the Town of Delhi Court and remanded to the Delaware County Jail in lieu of $10,000.00 cash bail.

The investigation is continuing.

Below: Clarence Vanier and Melody Vanier of Oneonta. Photos from the New York State Police.

For more news and information, go to this town's page: 
Delaware County
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